Moodle to Canvas: Language Assessment Transitions

With Middlebury’s recent institution-wide transition to a new Learning Management System (LMS), many instructors as well as programs have worked diligently to migrate existing learning content from Moodle to Canvas. Moodle, which has been in use here for a number of years, houses significant learning content across the institution and continues to be available throughout the academic year while educators transition their work to the new LMS.

As part of this process, the Office of Digital Learning has worked specifically to support language assessment migrations for Middlebury’s Language Schools and Schools Abroad. Having recently supported language assessment migrations from Moodle to Canvas for several language programs both locally and internationally, we would like to share some helpful advice to keep in mind as you transition your assessments.

Tip #1: Carefully Review Your Migrated Assessment

After your language assessment has been migrated from Moodle to Canvas, be sure to carefully review all questions in the migrated test. The best way to review your migrated assessment is to click “Preview” within the assessment in Canvas, and to actually take the test yourself by attempting to answer each of the questions. This is recommended because we have noted that multiple choice items in Moodle sometimes migrate to Canvas as fill-in-the-blank items. Fill-in-the-blank items are much harder for users to answer correctly than multiple choice items. The task for students changes significantly because they are being asked to type an answer from scratch rather than to choose from an array of predetermined answers.

If you find that your multiple choice test questions have not migrated properly, follow these steps:

  1. In Canvas, click “edit” on the question which did not migrate properly.
  2. Change the question type to “Multiple Dropdowns” or “Multiple Choice” (depending on your preference)
  3. Copy and paste each of the possible answers for each response from Moodle into Canvas (to do this, you will need to open your assessment in Moodle and choose “Edit quiz” under the “Administration” menu)
  4. Be sure to indicate in Canvas which of the answers is correct.
  5. Double-check that the points make sense. (In general, it’s a good idea to have the total points be divisible by the total number of responses)
  6. Click “Update question” and “Save” and check your revised question in “Preview” mode to confirm it has been edited correctly.

Tip #2: One Audience per Canvas Course

Assessments associated with a specific category of student (or “audience”) should be housed in their own Canvas course sites. For example, assessments associated with a Language School’s graduate program should be in a separate Canvas course site from assessments associated with that same Language School’s regular language program. This is recommended so that students who need to access the tests related to their program will not be confused as to which assessment they must take within the course. This recommendation means that Language Schools with assessments for different categories of students should create a separate course site for each audience. To create a new Canvas course site, please submit a ticket through Middlebury’s Technology Helpdesk.

Tip #3: Copy Assessments for Future Implementation

Starting after summer 2017, to prepare for the next summer’s assessments, Language Schools should make a copy of their current Canvas assessments and re-title those assessments according to the new year in which the tests will be taken. This is recommended so that Schools will not have to start a new Canvas course site every summer in order to administer the next year’s tests. As time goes by, this process will also create an archive of past years’ assessments. It is important that each school “un-publish” (or hide) assessments that are not active in Canvas, and only keep the assessments “published” (or visible) that students are currently taking. This will mean that students who self-enroll in the Canvas course site will only have access to the current, published version of the assessment. Archived/unpublished versions of the assessment will only be accessible to users with administrative access.

Tip #4: Delete Migrated Archives

When assessments were migrated from Moodle to Canvas, all of the archived versions of the assessments were moved over to Canvas along with the latest version of the assessment. We recommend that Schools delete the archived versions (2016 and earlier) of the tests that migrated from Moodle, as they did not migrate with any student data attached and are therefore only duplicate versions of the test itself. Before deleting these archived versions of assessments, please be sure that you have saved any past student data you need.


If you would like support with any of the above, need help updating or administering your existing language assessment in Canvas, or wish to create a new language assessment, feel free to contact Sonja Burrows.


Featured Image ©2011 Bridget Besaw
With thanks to Joe Antonioli

Sonja Burrows

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